Today, due to the ubiquity of smartphones and their impact on consumer decision-making, location marketing is essential to how any business portrays itself to the world.
Nearly every search we do now returns maps and local results powered by diverse types of location data, from menus and product offerings to reviews and hours.
Your local search results are your brand in the eyes of the customer.
What this means is your brand is engaging in location marketing whether you do it intentionally or not, because search engines and maps are doing it for you.
The choice is whether to leave control of your brand image to search crawlers and crowd-sourced content, or to have a strategy to present the best version of your brand everywhere your customer sees it.
For example, a Google search for ‘hotel’ in the vicinity of Kings Cross returns numerous results, but only the top three are displayed prominently—what’s known as the “three-pack.”
In the example shown here, Kings Cross Inn Hotel, SO Kings Cross Hotel, and Premier Inn London Kings Cross Hotel have won the game. A business traveler who has arrived in London by train for a meeting and needs to book a nearby hotel is most likely going to choose one of these.
Why these hotels are at the top
Search engines consider three main criteria in local search rank: proximity, relevance, and prominence.
Because the internet is a vast and ever-changing place with search engines continuously crawling for information, winning the search game requires actively marketing business locations through high-quality data.
We are on the verge of a new era of location-based search, where businesses everywhere will compete
Absent attention to detail, information from ten years ago living on an outdated site can get picked up and become the face of your brand today.
These three hotels have earned their place atop the search by having up-to-date, rich content for Google to present to users, from name, address, and phone number, to the business description, images, and offerings like free Wi-Fi.
How do the difference in ratings and number of reviews play into customer choices?
Google announced recently that reviews now factor into search rank.
A Yext study uncovered listings with a similar rating, but with more reviews than a competitor, capture over 50% more clicks on average for a given search.
If a business does not have reviews, it will be out-clicked 2.5 to 1 by one that does.
This represents a great opportunity for forward-thinking businesses.
Those that actively encourage customers to leave reviews, and respond to customer issues to make sure they are satisfied, will see their search rank rise alongside their higher and more numerous ratings.
How does a business tackle location data management?
The first step is to find an efficient way to organise and manage location data, clean it up, and push it out to search engines, maps, and apps. Many businesses do this through a location data management platform.
At that point, the most important thing is to provide high-quality, in-depth information. Does your free Wi-Fi appear in search? Is your restaurant menu visible and up to date? Do your hours take bank holidays into account?
The more of these pieces of content you fill in, the more often customers will find you.
According to Google, ‘Near Me’ searches have increased 146% year on year, and 76% of people who use location search visit a business within one day. 28% of location searches result in a purchase.
The revenue implications are enormous.
We are on the verge of a new era of location-based search, where businesses everywhere will compete for the hyperlocal, mobile consumer through ever-improving location information.
The question for any business with brick-and-mortar locations is whether they will get in the game or get left behind.